Tag Archive: lunch

(Submitted by reader Andrew Law)

To start with, I live in New Zealand which is important to know for this story.

When I was 11 years old my family and our good friends who lived a couple of houses down the street, took a once in a lifetime trip to Disneyland in LA. We took a week off school to do this.

We were all having a ball in Disneyland as to be expected, when it was time to have some lunch outside of the park; so we jumped on the mono-rail.

After sitting down I looked up and sitting on the seat opposite was the teacher from the class next to mine back in NZ, and who also happened to be the teacher of the friend that was with me! As you can imagine he asked my friend why he wasn’t in school.

Below are the extended notes provided by Barbara Drescher for use in Skepticality Episode 215.  Take a look and leave your comments below. Also, please be sure to listen to the podcast for our own sarcastic and hilarious commentary.

It seems that we all have an amazing travel story like this one. On the one hand, it is possible that all of the parties were prompted to consider visiting Disneyland by the same advertisements or because someone else in their town visited and that may increase the probability of such an occurrence by a great deal. The distance between New Zealand and Los Angeles increases the shock of such an event as well. On the other hand, the odds are still pretty astronomical that they would visit the same immensely crowded place at the same time and enter the monorail in the same place at the same time. I am always amazed by these stories and I often wonder how many times I passed by someone I know while far from home and just didn’t see them.  As with other travel stories like this, I can only say that it would be unusual if we did not experience many low-probability events in our lifetime.

On a less serious note, is anyone else wondering why the teacher wasn’t in school?

Barbara Drescher is a cognitive psychologist and statistician. Visit her blog ICBSEverywhere.  As a lecturer at California State University, Northridge,  Barbara primarily taught courses in quantitative/experimental research methods and topics in cognitive psychology. She currently serves as educational programs consultant for the James Randi Educational Foundation.

(Submitted by friend of the blog, Ross Blocher, of Oh No, Ross and Carrie!)

Darrin, a friend of mine from work, suggested yesterday that we get lunch some time. I called today, apparently at the exact moment he’d just walked into his office after a late arrival. Wow! But that’s not the coincidence.

So we’re driving to a restaurant in his car, and I’m talking about the word “apophasis”, one of my favorite words – I’m not even going to tell you that it means bringing something up by claiming not to mention it. After giving a couple examples, I said the word always reminds me of one woman I know because she’s constantly referring to her positive attributes in the same sentence she’s claiming not to brag. She also happens to have been the subject of a paranormal demonstration. Paranormal?! That’s right, I’m a member of the Independent Investigations Group, and I won’t even mention that the IIG offers a $50,000 challenge to anyone who can demonstrate an ability that flies in the face of natural law.

This particular woman claimed she could see inside peoples’ bodies and detect a missing kidney. I was very much involved with the planning of the demonstration, but could not personally attend because I was vacationing in Europe. Darrin stopped me at this part of the story and said, “Wait. Do you mean…” and described the demonstration exactly. I was surprised. “Yeah, how do you know?” Darrin goes on to tell me that, before I even really knew him, he was one of the 18 people chosen to go on stage and be tested by this woman to see if his kidney was missing. While I was off on another continent, he was participating in the test I’d helped plan. If that was not amazing enough, he points to his shirt: “That’s actually where I got this shirt.” Lo and behold, Darrin is wearing the exact pale blue shirt that he’d received 3 1/2 years ago as part of the test – all participants had to wear the same loose-fitting blue shirt to minimize differences between them.

So not only was my co-worker, unbeknownst to me, involved in the event I’d helped plan, but I called to have lunch with him on a day he just happened to be wearing the shirt he’d received from the event. What are the odds? No seriously, you tell me.

Here’s a screen cap with Darrin in the blue shirt: 


Below are the extended notes provided by Barbara Drescher for use in Skepticality Episode 210. Take a look and leave your comments below.

There is no way to calculate odds for something like this, but it is not as shocking as it seems. On the one hand, the author did not meet Darrin through a hobby or special interest group, but through work. On the other hand, if you’re having lunch with a coworker and calling them a “friend”, it’s highly likely that you share some interests and world views.

I am less impressed by the fact that Darrin participated in this demonstration than I am that neither Ross nor Darrin knew that the other was interested in skepticism. The social circles can be large, but there is a lot of activity on social networks. It seems to me that it would be difficult for these two to miss each other.